Dr Joyce Willard Teal

Happy black family playing together at home

Are You Raising One of the Next Generation of Hoodlums: Importance of Teaching Boundaries

A previous column discussed the significance of assuring that your son clearly understands the importance of boundaries, the personal ones to which he is entitled as well as those boundaries to which others with whom he interacts are entitled.

Boundaries are important because when we have established clear boundaries, we are more aware of our own rights, we have a strong sense of self and of how others deserve to be treated by us. Clearly established boundaries will also help your son set limits around how he wants to be treated. Additionally, clear boundaries will assist your son to develop a well-focused picture of his own needs and desires so that he can choose to ask for assistance when he is unable to meet them on his own.

Parents are responsible for making their sons aware of boundary violations and of the fact that boundaries can be breached in numerous ways. For example, one simple boundary violation is asking an adult, “How old are you?” And while you might be thinking, I don’t see how something so trivial is a violation of someone’s boundaries, please recognize and accept that all inappropriate questions are boundary violations. Boundaries are violated by asking questions or making remarks which make another person feel uncomfortable.

Your son needs to understand why we have rules, boundaries and expectations. He needs to be taught, and he needs to experience consequences when he makes inappropriate choices.  Praise should be liberally given when wise choices are made.  Parents need to display integrity consistently.  It is one of our most important personal values.  Your son is much more likely to hear you and take you seriously when you teach him to observe boundaries when you display integrity consistently. When integrity is compromised, memories are very long.

Teach your son to observe the effect boundary violations have on others and to observe how he feels when his boundaries are invaded. This increased awareness will assist your son to recognize, establish, and maintain comfortable and healthy boundaries.

Clear boundaries will help your son to:

  • Define self
  • Clarify responsibilities
  • Clarify his options
  • Identify what belongs to him
  • Know that it is okay to say no
  • Not ask inappropriate questions
  • Honor others’ personal space 

Parents: Know that learning to have positive personal boundaries ourselves, recognizing how important they are and taking the opportunity to teach our children how to have their own positive boundaries are all ways to assist us to keep ourselves and our children safe.

Picture of Joyce W. Teal

Joyce W. Teal

Dr. Teal began writing professionally in 1995 and has had several award-winning poems published. Her first book, It’s O.K. To Be Different, was written for boys and girls between the ages of nine and fifteen, but has universal appeal, has since been published in a New Millennium Edition. It is currently being read by children as well as adults.